“I wanna start from the top, maybe like a do-over. Replace the voices in my head with blind innocence; I wanna complete redo, maybe change my name…” – Modern Baseball, “Re-Do“
In sports, many fanbases wish for a “redo” for their favorite teams. The Cleveland Browns, the Oakland Raiders, the Chicago Cubs; these are just a few teams whose fanbases have long endured suffering, wishing they could press a reset button to jump their team’s fortunes. The redo is something many sports fans clamor for, but few ever receive.
Since its return in 2004, Charlotte basketball has taken fans on a rather embarrassing journey: poor draft choices, lackluster free-agency periods, poor attendance, the worst single-season winning percentage in NBA history; for ten years, these issues haunted Bobcats fans. Fans wished they could start over; they longed for a redo. A large portion of fans felt a proper restart would come via name change. The Bobcats name never truly felt right in Charlotte, with no ties to the city, but rather the team’s original owner.
Various names were pitched to shed the rather unpopular Bobcats name, most notably the Charlotte Flight. However, thanks to the work of the grassroots Bring Back the Buzz movement, Charlotte began to buzz about the return of the Charlotte Hornets name. In the spring of 2013, the New Orleans Hornets decided it was time to retire the Hornets name from their franchise, similarly hoping to rebrand and rejuvenate interest. This meant, of course, that the Hornets name would potentially be available. Shortly after the name change was confirmed, the Bobcats organization teased a major announcement from Chairman Michael Jordan.
On May 21, 2013, the Bobcats organization listened to its fans, and delivered; Michael Jordan announced that the team planned to place a bid to change the team name back to the Charlotte Hornets. Rarely in sports, or in life, does one have a second chance to make a first impression. The Bobcats made a horrible first impression. They lacked talent, leadership, direction, and felt like an apology for the heartbreaking manner in which the Hornets left in the early 2000’s. They simply never fit. By simply changing the team name (and later recovering all Charlotte basketball historical records), fans could erase the past decade of depression and replace it with much fonder memories. Fans can now replace darker memories of Byron Mullens and Adam Morrison with fond recollections of Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bogues.
Now, through fantastic work by the Bobcats front office, there is not only visual and historical evidence of a new era in Charlotte; there is also the groundwork the Bobcats laid in the 2013-2014 season. The first piece of the puzzle came in the blockbuster deal to bring Al Jefferson to the Queen City. “Big Al” immediately became the biggest star in franchise history, and the team drastically improved through his presence. The team had a centerpiece to mesh with young talent like Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jeffrey Taylor. Shocking development by “where are they now?” college superstars Josh McRoberts and Chris Douglas-Roberts provided both depth and the heart that the team desperately missed in seasons past. This group of athletes, ranging from to All-NBA, came together at the perfect time to bring Charlotte basketball back. The team made the playoffs, only to be swept by the Heat, but progress was made. The Bobcats played past Game 82. They hung toe-to-toe with the defending champs on the road. They regained the trust of a fanbase too often left dissatisfied.
Two seasons ago, the Bobcats were the owners of the worst win percentage in NBA history. In 2014, they were playing after the final game of the regular season, on national TV, showing the world just a glimpse of their potential. The final Bobcats team ever provided hope. The majority of that last Bobcats team will return, and Michael Jordan has let it be known that he expects another blockbuster signing this summer.
Timing is a crucial aspect in every sport, both on and off the field. In just two summers, Charlotte basketball has grown from being the butt of NBA jokes to arguably one of the most likable franchises in the league, thanks to the timing of superstar signings, talent growth, front office decision making, and a slight tweak to brand identity. Fans in the Queen City begged for a redo; Now, there has arguably been no better time to be a Charlotte Hornets fan.
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